MOSCOW: Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko is set to become president of the Russian Football Union once again after his only rival opted to withdraw his candidacy ahead of September’s election.

The national governing body has been without a president since May after Nikolai Tolstykh was sacked from the role in a move prompted by the financial position of the RFU.

At the time of Tolstykh’s sacking, the RFU was said to have accumulated debts of approximately $22.9m, partly through the disastrous hiring of Fabio Capello as national coach.

In the wake of Tolstykh’s exit, Mutko announced that he would be putting his name forward for consideration to take on the role. Igor Lebedev, vice-speaker of the Russian State Duma, also confirmed that he would stand for the role.

Mutko, who is a member of the executive committees of both FIFA and UEFA, had served previously as RFU president from 2005 until 2009. Then, t6o his irritation, he was forced to step down by a law created by former prime minister Dmitry Medvedev. That law has now been eased.

Lebedev, who has never worked in a sporting capacity, stood as a candidate during the 2012 elections but was unable to secure enough votes to be elected to the role. The RFU on Monday registered both Mutko and Lebedev as candidates ahead of an election, which is due to take place on September 2.

However, despite having been confirmed as an official candidate, Lebedev has opted to withdraw from the race and instead declare his backing for Mutko, the only remaining candidate.

“Today we met with Mutko and we offered each other our mutual support,” Lebedev told Russian news agencyTass. “He will support me in the RFU executive committee elections and I will support him in the presidential elections. Therefore, I will no longer be an opponent for him in the RFU elections.”

Mutko also serves as chairman of Russia’s organising committee for the 2018 Fifa World Cup.